Patriots Win! But Do They Have a Mandate?

Sunday's win by the New England Patriots over the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX, their 3rd win in the past 4 years, has solidified this team as this millennium's first NFL dynasty. Coach Bill Belichik and quarterback Tom Brady (both off to the NFL's best postseason records) are but two of many outstanding teammates on this well-rounded team. While the first half was a defensive battle, punctuated by very untimely turnovers by both sides, the second half saw the Patriots open up a lead that proved to be insurmountable.

“I don't know what happened,” said Donovan McNabb, quarterback for the Eagles. “We were having a pretty good game. New England is the type of team that likes to open things up early, and when the first half ended 7-7, I thought we had a pretty good shot.” Head Coach Andy Reid spoke up next. “Coming down the stretch, though, we really had it rough. (Patriot Kicker Adam) Vinateri and his “Field Goal for Truth” put us down by 10 points, and that late in the game, it was just something we couldn't overcome.”

While they openly congratulated the Patriots on their win, there are strong feelings among many of the Eagles that the Patriots don't really have a mandate to traipse about the country proclaiming themselves “NFL champions.” “You know, we scored more points against the Patriots than any other team had since February 1st. And, of all the points scored in the game, we scored almost 47% of them,” an unnamed teammate said. Another chimed in, “Really - can they really go around saying ‘We won’ when they only won by 6%? These folks are just arrogant.”

And, while the Eagles are grousing about the closeness of the game, other sections of the country are complaining about being disenfranchised. “You know, this was really a regional game - Boston and Philadelphia are just 300 miles apart! Hopefully we can avoid this disenfranchisement next year. Heck, with us going 2-14 last year, we're trying to make sure the NFL doesn't disenfranchise us,” said Mike Nolan, recently named head coach of the San Francisco 49'ers.

Warren Sapp of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was more direct. “For New England to say they are ‘World Champions’ is ludicrous. Did they play anyone from Canada? Mexico? Europe? I don't think so. These commentators talking ‘dynasty this’ and ‘dynasty that’ are really [torquing] me off.” His tone changed a little when asked about his XXXVII (2003) Super Bowl ring. “Well, you know, we really had a tough season that season. To come in with a new coach, and overcome losses and fines, that meant something. I don't think those goody-two-shoe Patriots have had a dollar of fines in the whole lot of them.”

Is this true? Of course not. The Patriots won fair and square, after a hard-fought contest, and by a slim but adequate margin. No one would dispute their claim to the 2004 NFL Championship. Sadly, similar claims by those in the political arena are true. Think about this the next time you hear a DNC talking head prattling on about “no mandate” for our President. (And, for those of you who think the above just isn't really all that funny - don't worry, I'm not quitting my day job.)

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